The death of George Floyd has racially awakened the Grace community and begun an overdue conversation on race and the racism that exists in our society and school. Even though it is a great effort, I am here to tell you that it is not enough and more needs to be done.
I would first like to use this platform to recognize Bryanna Antigua, Emily Williams, and Kai Williams. These names, including my own, have been lost in the dialogue. Kai Williams wrote the email which started the domino effect that began the conversations and workshops on race. I, Bryanna, Emily, and others followed. Our tears and pain sent waves throughout the school. Because of our actions, we have become leaders pushing the need for Grace to do more, but we are not the only ones. I would also like to recognize all the students of color at Grace who have added to our voices. The efforts of current Black students at Grace are a continuation of numerous Black voices pushing for change. And to the future students of color at Grace: I hope you all benefit from this movement and that you all thrive in a truly anti-racist institution.
Although the administration has taken steps to promote anti-racism and address the recent events of racist police brutality, their response should have happened sooner. The burden of igniting this needed and overdue conversation has fallen on the Black students at Grace. It was us who had to push the efforts, even though we were already traumatized by the events. We believe that the administration should have provided more support during this very rough time. We should not have been obligated to write multiple emails expressing our concerns while we were struggling to cope with our emotions after seeing another Black man being killed. Black students had no choice but to become leaders and educate our peers on the harm that racial microaggressions and use of N-word cause to Black students. These things need to be addressed because not only do they cause Black students to feel less than, or even alienated, but they are the root of events that have threatened the lives of Black Americans.
For Grace to be truly Anti-Racist, we must confront the racism that exists within our walls. How can we lead the effort toward racial equality, when there is a disparity in our school? We must look inward before we label the institution as Anti-Racist. Black students at Grace should feel protected by the administration and have faith that racism will be addressed and dealt with. However, this has not been the case. It took a year for Black students to receive an apology from their white peers who have used the N-word. It took the death of another Black man and the pain of Black students for us to finally receive apologies; for white students to recognize their privilege and complicity in racial discrimination.
The workshops we had this past week on racial justice and allyship should have existed during our annual MLK symposiums. The conversations about race we had this past week should have occurred throughout the school year. These efforts are the minimum to ignite change and are long overdue. I hope our efforts carry on to the next school year, rather than end with this one. I hope everyone, especially white students who have recognized their privilege, keeps the same passion over the summer and into the school year. It takes all of us, not only the students of color, to voice our concerns and hopes. Accountability needs to become a community practice.
I have faith that our voices will spark the change that is necessary for Black students at Grace to feel supported and seen. I hope that our community unites to bring Anti-Racism to fruition. Our last week of school has been monumental in starting conversations about race and racism, but this is only the beginning. As the highschool evolves, I hope to see more faculty and students of color, a more diverse curriculum that includes more non-white cultural narratives, and school policies combatting racist behavior. These three things must exist for Grace to become a truly Anti-Racist institution.